Curry, Lee boost All-Star claims in Warriors win

Updated 24 January 2013
0

Curry, Lee boost All-Star claims in Warriors win

OAKLAND, California: Golden State’s two key men made timely bids for inclusion in the NBA All-Star game by putting in powerful performances and leading the Warriors to a 104-99 win over the league-leading Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday.
On the eve of the announcement for the All-Star reserves, Stephen Curry had 31 points and seven assists while David Lee finished with 22 points and 12 rebounds for Golden State.
In other key games, Denver pulled away in the third quarter against a sloppy Houston, San Antonio overcame two key absences to beat New Orleans and notch a 15th straight home win, while Portland arrested a six-game skid and beat Indiana, dropping the Pacers out of the Central Division lead.
Golden State’s Curry stole a pass from the Thunder’s leading man Kevin Durant in the final seconds and hit a pair of free throws to seal the Warriors’ third straight victory.
Durant had 33 points, nine assists and five rebounds for the Thunder, who blew an eight-point lead in the fourth quarter. Oklahoma City’s lead over San Antonio at the top of the standings was sliced to zero games, ahead only on percentage.
The Spurs overcame the absence of the injured Tim Duncan and ill coach Gregg Popovich to beat the New Orleans Hornets 106-102.
Tony Parker had 24 points and 13 assists while Tiago Splitter added 25 points and seven rebounds.
Eric Gordon had 17 points for the Hornets.
The Denver Nuggets made the most of a Houston’s myriad mistakes and beat the Rockets 105-95.
Ty Lawson scored 21 points and Wilson Chandler had 20 for the hosts, who took command with a 21-5 burst late in the third quarter. The Nuggets converted 28 points off 23 Houston turnovers and beat the Rockets for the fifth straight time.
James Harden scored 23 points for Houston, which has lost eight of its past nine.
The Portland Trail Blazers, who had lost their previous four home games, arrested the slide with a 100-80 win over the Indiana Pacers.
LaMarcus Aldridge scored 27 points and rookie gaurd Damian Lillard added 20 points and eight assists for the Trail Blazers, who shot a season-high 56.4 percent from the floor.
Paul George had 22 points and seven rebounds for the Pacers, who had won seven straight against Western Conference teams, their longest streak in nine years.
The Los Angeles Lakers’ miserable season continued with a 106-93 defeat at the Memphis Grizzlies.
Darrell Arthur scored 20 points and Mike Conley added 19 for Memphis, which has won every one of the 12 games in which it’s reached three figures.
Kobe Bryant scored 29 points for Los Angeles, which lost its seventh consecutive road game, and also center Dwight Howard, who missed the second half after aggravating his sore shoulder in the first half.
Brooklyn’s Brook Lopez was another to strengthen his All-Star claims by leading the Nets to a 91-83 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. He had 22 points on 10-for-16 shooting.
The Nets improved to 12-2 under interim coach P.J. Carlesimo, and they’re 9-1 with their preferred starting lineup.
The Miami Heat came from 15 points down at home to beat the Toronto Raptors 123-116 in overtime.
Dwyane Wade scored 35 points and LeBron James got his 34th career triple-double, finishing with 31 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds.
The Chicago Bulls put in a furious fourth-quarter comeback to beat the Detroit Pistons 85-82.
Nate Robinson had 11 points and seven assists in 21 minutes off the bench, helping the Bulls to a win that moved them to the top of the Central Division standings, ahead of Indiana.
In other games, the Atlanta Hawks snapped a six-game losing skid in road games by beating the Charlotte Bobcats 104-92; the Utah Jazz held off the fast-finishing Washington Wizards and won 92-88, while the Phoenix Suns won their first game under new coach Lindsey Hunter, beating the Sacramento Kings 106-96.


Mohamed Salah threatens Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo Ballon d’Or stranglehold

Updated 16 min 44 sec ago
0

Mohamed Salah threatens Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo Ballon d’Or stranglehold

  • Messi and Ronaldo have won the award for the past ten years
  • Salah has emerged as a genuine rival after scoring 43 goals this season

LIVERPOOL: Mohamed Salah could be the man to finally break the Ronaldo-Messi duopoly at the top of world football after the Liverpool forward burnished his soaring reputation with a mesmerising Champions League performance against Roma.
Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona’s Lionel Messi have locked down the Ballon d’Or award for a decade, winning five gongs apiece — for the past seven years they have occupied the top two slots.
But Salah is now second favorite behind Ronaldo for this year’s award after scoring his 42nd and 43rd goals of the season in a thrilling 5-2 victory for Liverpool in the Champions League semifinal first leg.
After his first strike against his former club on Tuesday, the man dubbed by fans as the “Egyptian King” stood motionless, hands raised in apology, as bedlam broke out on a night for the ages at Anfield.
Salah’s curling effort arrowed into the top corner with such accuracy his manager Jurgen Klopp labelled it “a genius strike.”
Soon after came the forward’s signature finish, a cute dink over advancing Roma goalkeeper Alisson for his 43rd goal in 47 games for Liverpool.
When Salah, 25, made the move from the Italian capital back to the Premier League just 10 months ago for €42 million ($51 million), there were plenty who felt Roma had got the better deal. Salah after all was a talented player, but who often lacked an end product.
It also came just a few weeks before Neymar’s move from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain for a world record €222 million revolutionized the transfer market.
The Brazilian’s desire to leave the Catalan giants was tied to his ambition to beat Messi and Ronaldo to the Ballon d’Or by stepping out of Messi’s shadow.
Now, though, it is Salah who has emerged as the pretender to end the Messi-Ronaldo domination by not only scoring the quantity of goals that have become the pair’s trademark but doing it when it really matters, in the latter stages of the Champions League.
“If you think he is the best in the world, write it or say it,” urged Klopp, who has been credited with bringing out Salah’s previously untapped potential.
“To be the best in the world you need to do that over a longer period I think, and there are a few others that are not so bad.”
Heavily left-footed, small, speedy and with a low center of gravity, Salah’s characteristics are far more like those of Messi than the muscular goal-machine Ronaldo.
“In a certain light, at certain points, it is possible to glimpse in Salah a little of Messi’s afterglow,” wrote Rory Smith in the New York Times.
And he demonstrated another Messi-like quality in showing no mercy to Roma.
Chasing his first hat-trick in the Champions League, Salah would have been forgiven for going for goal as he bore down on Alisson once more after half-time.
But he showed why he is considered one of the game’s more unselfish superstars by instead creating another two goals for strike partners Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.
When Salah left the field to a standing ovation 15 minutes from time, Liverpool led 5-0.
“Unstoppable (when Salah’s on the pitch),” said the back page of The Times.
Two late Roma away goals have at least given the Italians hope of recreating the incredible comeback they staged from a 4-1 first-leg deficit against Barca in the quarter-finals.
For once it is Salah’s turn to lead the way where Messi faltered on his return to the Eternal City next week.
Messi is almost certain to win a La Liga and Copa del Rey double and Ronaldo could lead Real Madrid to a third consecutive Champions League after another bucketload of goals this season.
But Salah is the coming man and after bagging the African and English players’ player of the year crowns, it is hard to back against him also conquering the world.